Kudos to Miguel Ucovich for his well-stated letter regarding “Wineries are not community centers,” (Reader Input, Feb. 27).
Currently there are several applications with the county for minor use permits to open event centers.
Because commercial businesses that are not primarily agricultural are not allowed in the rural residential zoning (FBX-10), these applicants have sited a provision allowing for “community centers.” Unfortunately, this provision is not clearly defined, and extremely open-ended, allowing applicants to propose year-round public, commercial activities in areas otherwise restricted to residents and agriculture.
The community center provision is being abused to apply for event centers which is clearly inappropriate land use. This abuse allows relatively inexpensive agricultural land to support commercial business endeavors. These proposed facilities promise all the related issues that the zoning was intended to restrict: traffic on rural roads, noise, safety, lighting and little to no enforcement for permit violators.
Currently, wineries commonly violate the terms of the winery ordinance, and the county does not have the time or money for the proper enforcement owed the residents.
The rural residents pay the price for these profit-makers.
The event center itself is not evil. It can provide an influx of business to Placer County, but it needs to be located appropriately, on commercially zoned property, so that other surrounding businesses are more likely to benefit and rural residents do not have to forfeit the terms they originally invested their lives in.
The Board of Supervisors and Placer County residents need to take a long, hard look at this weakly defined provision and ask themselves “what was the original intent of the community center provision in the zoning code?”
It becomes apparent the original intent was to allow meeting places for community members to gather, residents that live acres away from their nearest neighbors, facilities such as grange halls and other not-for-profit facilities, to serve the community.
(Intent was) not to allow for misplaced event centers that compromise the quality of life and the very heart of what makes Placer County special. It’s a big county. There is an appropriate place for a healthy diversity of endeavors, (just) find the right place.
Let’s all take a high-level look at the county master plan and the language of the zoning, because the “community center” sheep’s clothing vanishes to reveal the wolf.
Teresa Chaney, Newcastle